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Annapolis elections officials defer decision on alderman's candidacy

Annapolis elections officials are expected to decide Friday whether Alderman Kenneth Kirby meets requirements to run for re-election this fall.

Kirby's residency has been questioned by some residents, and members of the Board of Supervisors of Elections are scheduled to meet Friday in a closed session with attorneys to discuss the matter.

More than 20 Annapolis residents signed a letter to the board last week questioning whether Kirby lives at the address on his election forms. Kirby has said he often stays with friends or relatives.

The alderman's residency became an issue more than a year ago, when he was staying in a niece's public housing unit that police raided as part of a drug investigation. Kirby was not implicated in any wrongdoing.

On Monday, Annapolis resident Scott Bowling sent a letter to the board alleging that Kirby's last two annual campaign finance reports omitted some information on donors and were filed late, which he said should disqualify the alderman from running for re-election.

Elections board chairman Michael Parmele later said a review from an accounting firm that looks at city campaign finance reports found Kirby had corrected those reports — except for one error in a date that remains unresolved.

At an elections board meeting Wednesday, members accepted the certification of candidacy for all aldermanic and mayoral hopefuls but Kirby, and have since announced Friday's meeting. The primary for Annapolis is Sept. 17 and the general election is Nov. 5. Elections are being held for mayor and all eight alderman seats on the city council.

Kirby did not attend Wednesday's meeting but said in an interview that he thinks the challenges are designed to get him off the ballot. He is unopposed in the Democratic primary and his opposition in the general election is independent candidate Steve Conn. No Republican filed to run in Ward 6.

"I've done nothing to deny my candidacy," Kirby said.

Kirby said the challenges might help him, because having his name in the news will remind voters of the work he's done on the council. "My record speaks for itself," he said.

Conn, who signed the letter about Kirby's residency, quoted to board members Kirby's statements from news articles about where he lives and how he often stays in different places.

"We feel reasonable doubt has been cast," he said.

Kirby's supporters are urging people to attend Friday's session in Annapolis. His campaign sent out an email message Thursday with the subject line "Democracy on Trial!" blasting the challenges to Kirby's eligibility. The Caucus of African-American Leaders, an Anne Arundel group with representatives from churches, the NAACP, the Black Chamber of Commerce and others, also sent out an email Thursday expressing support for Kirby.

pwood@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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